SURVEY: Assessment of the Estonian population - the quality of health care is good, but the availability of health care is a matter of concern

Most of Estonia's population assesses the quality of medical care to be good, and the awareness of the population in the field of e-health services is growing. However, over the years there has been a slight decrease in people's satisfaction with the availability of medical care. The results are revealed the annual survey “The Estonian population’s estimates on health and health care in 2016” commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Insurance Fund.

"People's assessment of the quality of health care has remained high over the years, at the same time, the people's concern about the availability of medical care increased," said Maris Jesse, the Deputy Secretary General of Health for the Ministry of Social Affairs. "To improve the situation, the Ministry of Social Affairs will this week submit to the government the proposals of sustainability for health care funding."

The quality of medical care was assessed last year to be good by 68% of the respondents, in 2015 the figure was 73%. More than average, a positive assessment of the quality of medical care was given by people of 15-29 years of age, and the residents of southern Estonia and the rural areas. The quality of health care is considered better by those people who evaluate their health to be good or very good.

The survey showed that most people visit family physicians. In the last 12 months, 64% of the Estonian population aged 15-74 have visited a family physician. At the same time, the residents' satisfaction with primary health care workers is very high - during the last visit, 92% of the people who visited a family doctor during the last year were satisfied with the family doctor, and 95% were satisfied with the family nurse.

During the year there was increased awareness of the population with e-services of the health sector. Compared to the previous year, the familiarity grew of both the patient portal (from 49% to 57%), as well as visiting it (from 17% to 24%). Also, people are increasingly using the opportunity to review their prescriptions and their history in the state portal

On the assessment of the Estonian population, the bottleneck is, in particular, access to health care, with which only 38% of respondents are satisfied. In previous years, satisfaction with access to medical care has remained in the range of 42-55%, while in 2015 it was 42%. The access to medical care was assessed to be the worst particularly by the residents of Northern Estonia (including Tallinn) and the most satisfaction with the medical care was felt by the residents of Central and South-Estonia.

As in the past, people are experiencing the most problems in relation to access to medical specialists. Problems with the registration, or getting to the appointment and then getting back home, have over the last year been felt by 22% of people who visited a medical specialist. Although satisfaction with medical specialists has remained steadily high (90%), people experience continued difficulties in relation to waiting lists.

The goal of the annual survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Health Insurance Fund, is to gain insight into what is the population’s satisfaction with the health care organization, access to and quality of health care services, how people perceive their health, and the proportion of the population that has heard of the digital medical history, and how aware are people of their rights as patients. The survey was conducted by Kantar Emor.

The survey report is available on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs. (there is also a link to the HDI database where the data is published parallel with the survey report: